Another shoe, please
While we’re waiting for shoes to drop, it’s worth wondering if any of these shoes fit in the first place. And, while we’re at it, it’s worth wondering: What’s it gonna take for the O’s to put something on?
First, there’s the A.J. Burnett deal that appears to have fallen through. If the O’s had him in their grasp, their bad for not finishing off the deal. It didn’t sound like taking on Mike Lowell was a deal-breaker — maybe it was. But the O’s certainly seemed to be on the verge of picking up the best pitcher available on the market, and now they’re on the back burner, with the White Sox making their play for the Marlins’ free agent-to-be. Maybe the O’s weren’t all that serious in the first place. But if not, why not? Even if he’s a rental, he’s a good one.
The other one twisting in the trade winds swirling around Baltimore is Phil Nevin, who has the right to deny a trade that would send him to the Orioles for Sidney Ponson. At this point, the shocker would be Nevin actually saying yes to the deal — he’s been in San Diego since ’99, and as he said Saturday, he’s earned the right to say no to this trade. Stranger things have happened, but Nevin’s a stubborn sort and Baltimore obviously was among eight teams he felt like blocking at one point. His agent, Barry Axelrod, has said in the past the list was constructed with teams in mind that might be able to afford picking him up, because Nevin has wanted to do whatever he can to stay in San Diego.
But this third time the Padres are trying to trade him should give him some pause. Sure, he’d be going to a much more hitter-friendly park than PETCO, but Nevin has more to consider than that. On the flip side, he should consider that a.) the organization clearly wants him to move on, and b.) that could make for an uncomfortable relationship going forward if he nixes this one like he did the Ken Griffey Jr. one a couple of years ago. If he does bounce the trade, the Padres will continue to try and move him, that much is clear. Finding a taker hasn’t been easy so far, though. Perhaps an August deal if this one falls through.
In the meantime, the Padres — in first place but plummeting — probably just go with Xavier Nady at first and have Nevin coming off the bench. That’s their leverage with Nevin at the moment, at least: You stay, you don’t play. Still, anyone banking on Nevin giving his OK to move to Baltimore is likely to be disappointed.
Which brings us back to the O’s. This is an opportunity here. If they fail to get something done this week, they’ll be regretting it. Last winter, it became pretty obvious it’s become a tough sell to get free agents to come to Baltimore, at least in part because the Red Sox and Yankees are in the same division. They need to get things done via trade, and this week’s huge for the stretch run as well as the future.